Alta — Mountain layout
The ski area has front and back sides with two base stations. Wildcat base area is the first one you reach. It has basic facilities—ticket office, restaurants, restrooms and ski patrol.
The Albion base area houses the Childrens Center, Ski School, restaurant, retail and rental operations. Albion is where youll find beginner slopes, but it also has intermediate and expert terrain at higher elevations. Albion and Wildcat bases are connected by a long, horizontal, two-way transfer rope tow: Just grab the rope and let it pull you along.
From the top of Germania Pass, the runs down the front side return you to the Wildcat base area; runs down the back go to Albion, or give access to the Sugarloaf and Supreme lifts. The top of Sugarloaf is where youll also access the terrain at Snowbird if you buy the joint-resort lift ticket.
To follow the sun, start the morning on Sugarloaf, then move to Collins on the front side at midday and finish on Supreme. Heres a larger, more detailed trail map.
Altas trail map shows no double black diamonds. Thats your first clue to the local attitude. If you
The ski areas rep is “powder heaven.” Its well deserved. Sure, Alta receives bountiful amounts of snow, but it also retains it well, thanks to plentiful trees and numerous sheltered gullies. While most skiers are carving on groomed runs a couple of days after a storm, the Alta cognoscenti are secretly diving into snow pockets in side canyons and upper elevations.
Alta, like Snowbird, is a what-you-see, you-can-ski resort, with many routes that aren named on the trail map. Be individual. Be creative. Thats the spirit of Alta.
At the Wildcat base, the Wildcat and Collins lifts serve intermediate and advanced runs—narrow trails, bump runs, open powder fields and many glades. Even on powder days, only one lift ride is required to reach the reward.
From the Collins lift, skiers can access an entirely different ridge, West Rustler. Off High Traverse, a dozen-plus blacks fall on both sides of the ridge. Eagles Nest, North Rustler and High Rustler descend the ridges front face back to the Collins lift. On the backside, the East Greeley area highlights a seemingly endless series of broad bowl routes, including Greeley Hill, High Greeley and Eddies High Nowhere—all leading to the Sunnyside lift or the Transfer Tow that traverses the base area. Stay high from Collins along blue-rated Devils Way to reach short, steep shots on Keyhole Gulch, Glory Hole and Yellow Tail, then ride the Sugarloaf lift. A day or two after a storm try Devils Castle—if its open.
On powder days, regulars line up to the right of the Collins unloading station. They
Far to skiers right runs the Supreme lift, accessed via Supreme Access off Razor Back (this is flat, so carry your speed). On powder days, go to the Albion base instead of the Wildcat base and head up to the Supreme lift, which drops you off at 10,595 feet. Once off the lift, where all but three runs are black-rated, drop in wherever you want; you can go wrong. Some of Altas best tree skiing is off this lift. The terrain is steep, the snow holds for days and trees are more abundant than the map shows. Just beware of cliffs, especially in the trees off Challenger. Supreme Challenge and Sidewinder surely deserve double-diamond ratings. A favorite choice is the 10-minute hike to skiers right to the Catherines Area entrance. Avoid traveling too far right; its a long walk back. Runs like Sunset and So Long hold great trees and powder fields in an area vast enough to explore all day.
Experts hunting a unique Alta experience should seek Alfs High Rustler, named after one of the founding fathers of Alta. Getting there is adventure enough for some. Ride the Collins lift and take the high traverse. Stay on the traverse as it crosses the ridge toward Greeley Bowl, and keep on traversing. The traverse becomes narrow, the drop-offs precipitous on each side. Eventually it spirals around the mountaintop knoll, and opens to High Rustler, a beautiful, steep run that is little skied, enjoys breathtaking views of the valley, and spills right out into the lodges at the bottom.
Intermediate skiers experience a certain special heaven at Alta—well-groomed trails, ungroomed powder fields and friendly pitches with wide-open and un-peopled runs. Not even any lift lines! And remember, no snowboarders.
Start on the Albion side where intermediates have the most extensive terrain under the Sugarloaf lift. Find groomed cruisers plus a few very gentle pitches off to one side that don get groomed—a super place to take some powder turns. Devils Elbow is a real hoot, as is Roller Coaster. Theres one nice intermediate run off the Supreme lift—Upper Big Dipper—but don plan to ski this lift unless you want lots of challenging blacks.
On the Wildcat side, intermediate trails take you from the top of both the Wildcat and Collins lifts. Mambo and Main Street are loads of fun. Just watch for the steep top of Main Street. If you want a delightful powder field, head to Ballroom. Don traverse too far, as the terrain gets steeper the farther you go (don worry, you can see when it gets steeper).
Alta is a great intermediates mountain. Find a guide who knows the territory to make your experience memorable.
Although Alta is well-known for its extremely difficult terrain, it also boasts exquisite grooming of the best snow in the region. This may come as a surprise, but Alta has the best beginner terrain in all of Utah.
The best beginner and first-timer terrain is at the Albion base. If you
Sunnyside has been upgraded to a bit more of an advanced-beginner run, but the rest are pure beginner runs. The mile-long run, Crooked Mile, takes you gently back to the bottom of both the Albion and Sunnyside lifts.
To get higher on the mountain, work your way up from the top of the Sunnyside lift to the Cecret lift and cruise down the Rabbit and Sweet N Easy runs. Take a break at the legendary Alfs Restaurant facility, which also houses the ski school and demo center.